♔ THE PAST CONTINUOUS

key_small  1. THE FORM

 

This tense (also called the PAST PROGRESSIVE tense) is formed using two components:  the verb TO BE  (in the past tense), and the -ING form of a verb.

 

TO BE (in the past : WAS / WERE) + V + ING

 

AFFIRMATIVENEGATIVEQUESTION
I WAS WORKING I WAS NOT (wasn't) WORKING WAS I WORKING ?
YOU WERE WORKING YOU WERE NOT (weren't) WORKING WERE YOU WORKING ?
HE WAS WORKING HE WAS NOT (wasn't) WORKING WAS HE WORKING ?
SHE WAS WORKING SHE WAS NOT (wasn't) WORKING WAS SHE WORKING ?
IT WAS WORKING IT WAS NOT (wasn't) WORKING WAS IT WORKING ?
WE WERE WORKING WE WERE NOT (weren't) WORKING WERE WE WORKING ?
YOU WERE WORKING YOU WERE NOT (weren't) WORKING WERE YOU WORKING ?
THEY WERE WORKING THEY WERE NOT (weren't) WORKING WERE THEY WORKING ?

 

key_small  2. THE USES:

 

A/ The Past Continuous is usually used when one action began before another, and finished after it. Look at this sentence:

 

    He was watching TV when the phone rang.

 

In other words he started watching TV (maybe at 8 o'clock), then the telephone rang (maybe at half past eight), then he finished watching TV.

 

    I was having a bath when you called me.

 

(I started having a bath at 10.00, and you called at 10.10. I was still in my bath.)

 

B/  We can also use the tense when we talk about an action that had already started and was still continuing at a particular time:

 

    At 5.00 it was raining heavily.

 

In other words it started raining (maybe at 4 o'clock), and finished raining later (maybe at 6 o'clock).

 

    What were you doing last night at nine o'clock?

 

C/  We also use the Past Continuous to describe TWO actions that were BOTH continuing at the same time in the past.  In this case, we use the past continuous for both actions:

 

    While I was sleeping she was working on her laptop in the living-room.

 

In other words I started sleeping and she started working (maybe at 10 o'clock), and we both finished our actions later.

 

D/ In a story we often use this tense to say what was in progress, when something happened, or to describe something or someone:

 

    The sun was shining.

 

    People were sitting under the trees or walking around the park.

 

    She was wearing such a beautiful long silk dress.

Aller à la barre d’outils